Umbalembe is a soundscape documentary about the island of Jamaica curated by Zanj Rracc. The project is based on the work of Zanj Rracc and DJ Afifa, sound artist who live and work in Jamaica. The artwork for the project was designed by Isabel Dennis.
The project was released during World Music Fusion on Zanj Radio on November 10, 2018.
In August 2018 a preview of the project was presented at the Umbalembe event at Mazola’s “Playground” in Gordon Town, St. Andrew Jamaica. Mazola is a Kenyan born artist who lives and works in Jamaica. The Playground is both Mazola’s workshop and exhibition space. The event was an attempt to introduce our ideas around sound art to a Jamaican audience.
Dj Afifa shared some of her feelings about the project. “Umbalembe is an important project for me. First as a creative project I am rediscovering the world of sound outside of popular music. I am developing techniques to record Jamaican history (earth history) using sound (art) as the primary medium. I am moving away from ” verbalising” ideas or “saying things” to documenting and showing things or letting things speak for themselves. Umbalembe has given me the courage to continue establishing the world of music and sound as a legitimate place for me to engage others in questions about the reality of our daily lives. It is an example of how I can bring together all my interest, experience and skills.”
Zanj Rracc explained that the key to curating Umbalemebe was to organize the material into themes and then present a macro and micro perspective on life in Jamaica. He also stated that, “Umbalembe was a special project for me as sound art is an area that allows me to express feelings that musical content cannot necessarily communicate. It is a documentation of a particular cross roads in Jamaica, where old collides with the new and the produces haphazardness camouflaged in a type of meretricious glamour.”